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Kerry, Hagel lay wreath at Japan's national cemetery

18 Comments

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday became the most senior foreign dignitaries to pay their respects at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery near Tokyo's Imperial Palace, since the Argentinian president in 1979.

A cemetery official told AFP the visit had been instigated by the U.S. and had not come about as a result of a Japanese invitation.

U.S. defense officials said the cemetery was Japan's "closest equivalent" to Arlington National Cemetery.

That view contradicts hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has likened Yasukuni shrine, where 14 "Class A" war criminals are among the 2.5 million enshrined, to the U.S. national cemetery in Virginia.

During a visit to the U.S. in May, he told Foreign Affairs magazine that the shrine, seen throughout East Asia as a symbol of Japan's militarism, was a tribute to those "who lost their lives in the service of their country."

"I think it's quite natural for a Japanese leader to offer prayer for those who sacrificed their lives for their country, and I think this is no different from what other world leaders do," he said.

Abe, who was also prime minister from 2006 to 2007, has stayed away from the shrine after China and South Korea angrily denounced predecessor Junichiro Koizumi's annual pilgrimage. But a growing number of his ministers have visited it.

Unlike Arlington, Yasukuni's caretakers promote a view of history that is controversial even at home, with the accompanying Yushukan museum staunchly defending much of Japan's wartime record.

A U.S. official told media Kerry and Hagel were paying tribute at Chidorigafuchi in the same way that "Japanese defense ministers regularly lay wreaths at Arlington".

"This memorial is the closest equivalent. It honors Japanese soldiers, civilians, and support personnel killed on WWII battlefields but whose remains were never recovered by their families. It is a gesture of reconciliation and respect."

Seki Tomoda, an expert on international politics and diplomacy, said the wreath-laying could be Washington's attempt to nudge East Asia over the hump caused by the Yasukuni issue, by conferring legitimacy and respectability on Chidorigafuchi.

"What's worrying America most is the fierce row among Japan, South Korea and China over the Yasukuni issue," he told AFP. "Visiting a more neutral place may be a message from Americans... that they want the three countries to ease their confrontation. Yasukuni, unlike Arlington, is a religious facility... I think it's impossible that Hagel or any other American leader would visit Yasukuni. Chidorigafuchi was an option (for the U.S.) in order to send a message."

Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery was built 1959 to house the remains of unidentified Japanese who died overseas during World War II.

The Tokyo memorial, maintained by the environment ministry, honors 358,260 dead, mainly soldiers, whose remains have been returned to Japan, but also some civilians who died overseas.

The prime minister customarily lays a wreath at the cemetery ahead of the formal Japanese service of remembrance held at a large hall in Tokyo.

© (C) 2013 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


18 Comments
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Unfortunately, the same could not happen in the USA because of the farce created by Congress. A national cemetery for WW II is closed. Thank you Japan for showing respect for the deceased.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

I would imagine this place is MUCH more like Arlington if, as it says, it's a cemetery. Maybe there are ashes there. For the most part, nobody's body, any part of it, is at Yasukuni, though people may commune with ancestors at both places.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

A national cemetery for WW II is closed

No, it isn't.

Good for these two people coming to pay their respects.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Job well done Secretaries Kerry and Hagel.

I see this as a small but meaningful gesture toward encouraging greater focus on Chidorigafuchi as the best place to appropriately pay tribute to Japan's fallen soldiers.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

nice gesture.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Just some political PR really. Meanwhile Kerry & Hagel continue with US military presence in the middle East where 100's of thousands have been killed already.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Unlike Arlington, Yasukuni’s caretakers promote a view of history that is controversial even at home, with the accompanying Yushukan museum staunchly defending much of Japan’s wartime record.

I'm Korean but I didn't care much for Yasukuni nor did I agree with the Korean government's condemnation of it, thinking it was basically Japan's national cemetery (albeit religious) so what's the big fuss. It was only recently (and through this site) that I learnt that it has a museum that displays the suicide bomber planes and other artifacts in a way that could be interpreted as glorifying its wartime past.

I still don't feel too strongly about Yasukuni and Japan shouldn't have to take orders from China and Korea, but I do think it would be a wonderful gesture of goodwill if Chidorigafuchi was made the focus next August rather than the controversial Yasukuni.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

A small gesture to keep US bases and hegemony in the region and arms traders happy.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Mitch CohenOct. 03, 2013 - 04:17PM JST I'm Korean but I didn't care much for Yasukuni nor did I agree with the Korean government's condemnation of it, >thinking it was basically Japan's national cemetery (albeit religious) so what's the big fuss. It was only recently (and >through this site) that I learnt that it has a museum that displays the suicide bomber planes and other artifacts in a way >that could be interpreted as glorifying its wartime past.

Have you ever been three? I have. I found it to be a "museum" (surprise surprise). It didn't glorify or denigrate anything, it had lots of historical military items on display, going pretty far back into the late 1800s up to WWII. That it "glorifies war" is a term created and used by the anti-J crowd, and IMO ccan only be "interpreted" that way if that is your agenda to start with.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Good on them. A very smart and a very wise act. Everyone is better off discarding Yasukuni and the weirdo politics it attracts, especially those who were forced to die for imperial Japan's arrogance.

Meanwhile Kerry & Hagel continue with US military presence in the middle East where 100's of thousands have been killed already.

That has nothing to do with this issue.

keep US bases and hegemony in the region and arms traders happy.

Yeah, that's right. It's so obvious you don't even have to explain it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Hahah Onodera looks like a school kid photo. Just missing the V peace sign!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yasukuni supporters: Imperial Japan as a superior culuture had the god given right to invade and pillage most of Asia for half a century and we are proud of those labeled as war criminals for their murderous frenzy throughout Asia. This is Japan and we can do what ever we want no matter how vulgar and sadistic it may appear to the rest of the world where peaceful global cooperation is vital for future prosperity. Understanding and compromise is not the way of samurai... we will continue to deny and defy attempts to resolve conflicts quietly. Teikoku nippon banzai (imperial japan banzai).

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This sounds closer to an "Unknown Soldier Memorial" which should have no political or religious association. Yasukuni is religious and political so it probably is inappropriate for any countries officials to visit especially after they deliberately included hundreds of war criminals and the 14 worst ones. If the Showa emperor stopped visiting the shrine, it should be inappropriate for any Japanese Government offical to visit and still stay true to Shinto.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why do U.S. need support from Japan? U.S. from it's origins to now has never fought a war alone and always had the strongest allies of that time and large numbers of allies. Unlike U.S., China and Russia doesn't need many allies (NATO) to fight or solve a problem and they have proven that for a very long time. Not to mention only nation that U.S. has ever fought that was threatening in the modern era was Germany years ago along with again large numbers of allies including Russia who took the brunt of the war alone. Not to mention U.S. have offended "allies" one too many times.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"This memorial is the closest equivalent (to Arlington). It honors Japanese soldiers, civilians, and support personnel killed on WWII battlefields but whose remains were never recovered by their families..."

It is pretty obvious that the main purpose of the two secretaries going there is to expose the lie of Shinzo Abe, the fascist PM of Japan who said the Yasukuni shrine is Japan's equivalent of the Arlington Cemetery.

I wonder why Japanese fascists such as Shinzo Abe often like to liken the Yasukuni shrine to the Arlington Cemetery?

While the Arlington is just a burial ground, the Yasukuni is a church or religion (State Shinto) where nobody is buried.

While the main purpose of the Arlington is to conduct funeral services, the central belief of the Yasukuni cult is fascism and holy war (world conquest).

So why do Japanese fascists like to equate the two?

Why do U.S. need support from Japan?

The US needs Japan only if it wants to take on China or Russia. On the other hand, it doesn't need Japan if it has no intention to fight with China or Russia or to keep them in check.

That's exactly the reason why the US released all remaining Class-A criminals from the Sugamo prison only shortly after the beginning of the Cold war, form an alliance with these fascists and even funded their political activities to help them to return to power through the LDP, a political party founded by the fascists, WWII criminals and Yakuza godfathers.

The US depended on these fascists to take on China and USSR because they are the natural enemy of the communists and the Americans were also wary of the Japanese leftists. However, over-dependence on these fascists also means the Americans have to tolerate fascism in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Guru28, there are no "fascists" in Japan's government today, just a bunch of annoying idiots in black trucks. In contrast, China is more fascist than communist now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan has always been impotent as a military power which is not say the Japanese soldiers can't fight but it is not possible for Japan to have a world class military for one reason, it is too small. China is the biggest threat in the region. They are finally showing their expansionist goals which they kept hidden for years. If it comes to a military confrontation, I don't see anyway to protect Japan or Korea. Neither country can protect themselves. But China will not take that step, they don't have to. They can just bully all the countries around them and pretty much get their way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Guru28, there are no "fascists" in Japan's government today, just a bunch of annoying idiots in black trucks.

That's nothing more than a lie. If they aren't fascist, why would they worship at the Yasukuni shrine whose central belief is fascism and holy war (world conquest) in the first place?

If these fascists do believe that the Yasukuni cult is just a lie as exposed by its God, Emperor Hirohito in his human declaration when he declared that he is no God but just a human being and Japanese aren't a superior race and there is no need to go for holy war in contrary to what the Yasukuni shrine (State Shinto) preaches, why then do they continue to worship at the shrine fervently exactly like what the Japanese fascists have been doing since the beginning of the State Shinto period?

Japan has always been impotent as a military power

If Japan has always been weak like what you said, how then did it manage to invade Ryukyu, Korea, eastern part of China, the whole of south-east Asia, northern Australia and even defeated China and Russia, the two strongest countries in the whole of Asia since the beginning of the State Shinto period?

If the Yasukuni shrine (State Shinto) didn't brainwash generations of Japanese into brutal killing machines, you think the Japanese could have done that?

They can just bully all the countries around them and pretty much get their way.

Like what the US has been doing?

The fact is China had been the strongest country in Asia (or perhaps in the whole world) for at least one to two millenniums like what the Roman empire was to Europe. Could you tell us how Japan was bullied by China during the one to two millenniums?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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